3. Automobiles will increase productivity in all industries. There will be more leisure, more family travel for longer distances. (Increased luggage space is indicated for the family car.)
4. Semiautomatic driving will become the rule. Driving will be easier—therefore more relaxing; therefore more dangerous. (Interior design must take into account that the occupants must be protected more carefully if the driver lapses in attention and dozes. Devices may become standard equipment to prevent this from happening.)
5. The standard of living will be more uniform. More people will be able to consider the possibility of owning two or more cars. (There will be a wider variety of body types made available at the low-cost level—possibly a utility car, of which no example exists, now; or a vacation car, combining advantages of the present station wagon with some of the more important facilities found in trailers: refrigerated compartments, cooking units, folding awning tents, and so forth.)
6. Finally—and by far the most effective factor—there must be greater emphasis laid on the safety factor in car design. At present, one out of every ten hospital beds is occupied by the victim of an automobile accident. In 1954, 36,000 or more people were killed. In fifty years, even if the rate of fatal accidents declines (as it does annually, based on the number of miles traveled), we may expect as many as 120,000 killed annually. Obviously, something will have to be done about this, by driver education—the biggest factor—and by the automotive industry itself. (This fact will affect appearance, because structural revisions may shift glazed areas, simplify instrument panels. Automobiles, like planes today, will need to be studied as human engineering problems. Style will follow function.)
Now let's see if we can visualize an ensemble. Our 2005 model has a compact engine that does not require a high hood. This engine can be placed anywhere, and the cooling intake, if any, will be small. The body encloses large luggage spaces. The car is correctly streamlined; the undercarriage is smooth. The body is built strongly to be safe in case of collision. Therefore, window arrangement will be changed, by the new type of structure. I believe the goldfish-bowl or greenhouse superstructure is on its way out, especially in the rear of the vehicle.
The doors—or rather the accessibility panels will be power-operated and will open so that one can get in and out without crouching. The car can move laterally for close parking.
Inside, the automobile will be quite changed. With emphasis on de-lethalization, air conditioning, and partial convertibility, all-new interiors are inevitable. Seats will probably incorporate a pneumatic network to control resiliency.
Various devices will have made driving a semiautomatic process. It is known that metabolic and neuro-electrical variations take place in the human body when one relaxes and goes to sleep. It is conceivable that in the next fifty years means will be found to detect these fluctuations in body condition so as to stop the car automatically whenever the danger point approaches. Perhaps the driver will wear wrist electrodes. Or the steering wheel may transmit the body impulses. That steering wheel must, by all means, be mounted on a telescoping column.